Favourite Flying Fox Food Trees: What To Plant

 

flying fox

flying fox quenches it’s thirst

Flying-foxes are flying gardeners, they sustain forests along eastern and northern Australia, pollinating native trees in national parks and reserves that have become separated or isolated by settlement. Flying foxes also spread tree seed, helping to landscape vast areas of Australia.

Many forest-dwelling threatened species depend on these ‘batty’ forests to provide them with food and accommodation, so flying foxes are keystone species. Conserve flying foxes and you also give threatened species, like the koala, a better chance of survival.

But what do flying foxes eat? Below is a list of nectar-rich,  pollen-rich, and fruiting Australian plants which nourish our flying gardeners all year round.

If you want to help conserve this mutually beneficial relationship between our batty forests and our threatened species, please plant some of these trees in your garden. The best garden trees are identified in the list. Please also encourage others to plant them as well – no bush tucker garden in northern or eastern Australia would be complete without its batty species.

If there is one palm gardeners should get rid of, it’s the cocos palm, also known as the queen palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana). Apart from being an invasive species, cocos palms injure and sometimes kill flying foxes.

Grow Bangalow or Alexander palms instead of cocos palms. They’re both trustworthy, single-stemmed palms with feathery foliage so they are good substitutes in suburban and municipal landscapes. These palm blossoms are important for honeybees, while their fruit nourish a variety of native birds and mammals, including flying foxes.

There are four species of flying fox in Australia:

flying fox distribution in Australia

flying fox distribution in Australia. Source: NSW Environment & Heritage

Black flying-fox, (Pteropus alecto). Habitat: tropical and subtropical rainforest, paperbark forest, woodland and cultivated landscapes

Grey-headed flying-fox (Pteropus poliocephalus). Habitat: rainforest, mangroves, paperbark forest, wet and dry sclerophyll (eucalypt) forest and cultivated landscapes;

Little red flying- fox, (Pteropus scapulatus). Habitat: from semi-arid inland regions to tropical and temperate sclerophyll  forest, paperbark forest, and monsoon forest;

Spectacled flying fox (Pteropus conspicillatus). Habitat: tall rainforest and forest, mangroves or paperbark forest;

My thanks to Brisbane Bat Conservation & Rescue for supplying me with the resources to put this chart together, and I thank them for the invaluable work they do.

Jerry Coleby-Williams
15th March 2014

Flying Fox Food Trees

Download this table as a pdf file – Flying Fox Food Trees

Species Common Name Habit Flowering Fruit Notes
Acacia macradenia Zigzag wattle Shrub August Possible pollen source
Albizia lebbek Lebbek Tall tree summer Source of nectar. Excellent shade tree for large gardens.
Alphitonia excelsa Red ash Tree October to March November to May Food source for Black and Grey-headed flying fox
Angophora costata Smooth-barked apple Tall tree December to January Source of nectar
Angophora floribunda Rough-barked apple Tall tree September to February Source of nectar
Angophora costata subsp. leiocarpa Smooth-barked apple, Rusty gum Tall tree November to February Source of nectar
Archontophoenix alexandrae Alexander palm Tree-like November to December January Food source for Spectacled flying fox. Good garden tree
Archontophoenix cunninghamiana Bangalow palm Tree-like February to June March to July Food source for Grey-headed flying fox. Good garden tree
Banksia integrifolia Coastal honeysuckle Shrub or small tree Recurrent, all year round Food source for Black and Grey-headed flying fox. Good garden tree
Banksia serrata Old man banksia Shrub or small tree February to May Source of nectar. Good garden tree
Buckinghamia celsissima Ivory curl tree Small tree December to February Possible source of nectar. Good garden tree
Callistemon citrinus Crimson bottlebrush Shrub or small tree November and March Source of nectar. Good garden tree
Callistemon salignus White bottlebrush Shrub or small tree spring Source of nectar. Good garden tree
Castanospermum australe Moreton Bay chestnut, Black bean Tall tree spring Source of nectar
Corymbia citriodora Lemon-scented gum Tall tree may flower in any season Source of nectar
Corymbia gummifera Red bloodwood From mallee to tall tree summer to autumn Source of nectar
Corymbia intermedia Pink bloodwood Tall tree December to March Source of nectar. Good garden tree
Corymbia maculata Spotted gum Tall tree May to September Source of nectar
Corymbia ptychocarpa subsp. aptycha Swamp bloodwood Tall tree February to June and December Source of nectar
Corymbia tessellaris Moreton Bay ash Tall tree summer Source of nectar
Corymbia trachyphloia Brown bloodwood Tall tree January to May
Cupaniopsis anacardioides Tuckeroo Small to medium tree May to July October to December Fruit a possible food source
Diploglottis australis Native tamarind Medium to tall tree spring spring to summer Source of fruit, which can be used for jam making
Eucalyptus acmenoides White mahogany Tall tree November to January Source of nectar
Eucalyptus baileyana Bailey’s stringybark Tall tree November to January Source of nectar
Elaeocarpus bancroftii Johnson River almond Medium to tall tree autumn summer Source of nectar
Eucalyptus biturbinata Grey gum Tall tree December to April Source of nectar
Eucalyptus carnea Broad-leaved white mahogany Tall tree October to December Source of nectar for blossom bats
Eucalyptus cloeziana Gympie messmate Small to tall tree summer Source of nectar
Eucalyptus crebra Narrow leafed ironbark Tall tree autumn to spring Source of nectar
Eucalyptus curtisii Plunkett mallee (small eucalypt) Small tree December to January Source of nectar. Good garden tree.
Eucalyptus eugenioides Thin-leaved stringybark Tall tree December to February Source of nectar
Eucalyptus exserta Queensland peppermint Tall tree November to February Source of nectar
Eucalyptus fibrosa Red ironbark Tall tree December to February Source of nectar
Eucalyptus grandis Flooded gum Tall tree March to May Source of nectar
Eucalyptus melliodora Yellow box Tall tree September to February Source of nectar
Eucalyptus microcorys Tallowwood Tall tree January to March Source of nectar for Grey-headed and Black flying fox
Eucalyptus miniata Darwin woollybutt Small to medium tree January to September Source of nectar
Eucalyptus moluccana Grey box Tall tree February to April Source of nectar
Eucalyptus pilularis Blackbutt Tall tree December to March Source of nectar
Eucalyptus planchoniana Bastard tallowwood Tall tree Source of nectar
Eucalyptus propinqua Grey gum Tall tree January to March Source of nectar for Grey-headed and Black flying fox
Eucalyptus radiata Narrow-leaved peppermint Tall tree October to January Source of nectar
Eucalyptus robusta Swamp mahogany Tall tree winter Source of nectar for Grey-headed flying fox
Eucalyptus resinifera Red mahogany Tall tree November to February Source of nectar
Eucalyptus tereticornis Forest red gum Tall tree June to November Source of nectar for black, grey-headed, little red and spectacled flying fox
Ficus coronata Sandpaper fig Small tree January to June Source of fruit. Good garden tree
Ficus fraseri White sandpaper fig Shrub to medium-sized tree May to February Source of fruit for grey-headed flying fox
Ficus macrophylla Moreton Bay fig Tall tree spring to summer Source of fruit for black and grey-headed flying fox
Ficus rubiginosa Port Jackson fig Tall tree summer to winter Source of fruit for all flying fox species
Ficus obliqua Small-leaved fig Tall tree April to June Source of fruit for black and grey-headed flying fox
Ficus virens White fig Tall tree September to July Source of fruit for spectacled flying fox
Glochidion sumatranum Cheese tree Small to medium tree spring to summer April to May Possible source of fruit
Grevillea pteridifolia Fern-leaf Grevillea Shrub to small tree April to November Source of nectar. Good garden tree
Grevillea robusta Silky oak Tall tree spring to summer Source of nectar for black, grey-headed and little red flying fox
Lophostemon confertus Brush box Tall tree October to December Source of nectar for black and grey-headed flying fox
Lophostemon suaveolens Swamp box Tall tree spring to summer Source of nectar
Melaleuca leucadendron (syn. M. leucadendra) Cadjeput Tall tree recurrently, any time of year Source of nectar for Little red and black flying fox
Melaleuca viridiflora Broad-leaved paperbark Shrub or small tree November to June Source of nectar. Good garden tree
Melia azederach White cedar Small tree March to August spring to summer Source of fruit for spectacled flying fox. Seed toxic to humans.
Melicope elleryana Pink-flowered doughwood Small to medium tall tree January to March July to December Possible source of fruit. Food plant for butterflies, including Ulysses butterfly
Pittosporum undulatum Sweet pittosporum Shrub to small tree spring to summer autumn Possible source of fruit. Invasive native species.
Planchonella australis (formerly Pouteria australis) Native plum, black apple Tree summer autumn to winter Source of fruit for spectacled, black and grey-headed flying fox. Slow growing, good garden tree
Pleiogynium timorense Burdekin plum Tree winter Flying foxes eat and disperse seed
Syncarpia glomulifera Turpentine tall tree September to October Source of nectar
Syzygium australe Brush cherry Shrub or tree summer to autumn late summer Source of fruit for grey-headed flying fox. Good garden tree
Syzygium luehmannii Riberry Shrub or tree November to December December to February Possible source of fruit. Resistant to psyllid. Good garden tree
Syzygium smithii (formerly Acmena smithii) Lilly pilly Shrub or tree spring to summer summer to autumn Source of fruit. Resistant to psyllid. Good garden tree
Syzygium oleosum Blue lilly pilly Shrub or tree late spring to winter summer to spring Source of fruit. Good garden tree

Download this table as a pdf file – Flying Fox Food Trees